Robin Hood

Week 9: Medieval Heroes - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Robin Hood and Sir Guy (Ballad 118)

Reading time: (3 minutes)

Very dramatically, the ballad leaves Little John, about to be hanged, and returns to Robin in the woods. Pay special attention to Robin's actions after he kills Guy of Gisborne. The modern version you read changed this part of the plot in order to make Robin seem less of an outlaw and criminal.
Let us leave talking of Litle John,
For hee is bound fast to a tree,
And talke of Guy and Robin Hood,
In the green woode where they bee.
How these two yeomen together they mett,
Under the leaves of lyne,
To see what merchandise they made
Even at that same time.
"Good morrow, good fellow," quoth Sir Guy:
"Good morrow, good fellow," quoth hee;
"Me thinkes by this bow thou beares in thy hand,
A good archer thou seems to bee."
"I am wilful of my way," quoth Sir Guye,
"And of my morning tyde:"
"I'le lead thee through the wood," quoth Robin,
"Good fellow, I'le be thy guide."
wilful = astray
tyde = time
"I seeke an outlaw," quoth Sir Guye,
"Men call him Robin Hood;
I had rather meet with him upon a day
Then forty pound of golde."
"If you tow mett it wold be seene whether were better
Afore yee did part awaye;
Let us some other pastime find,
Good fellow, I thee pray.
"Let us some other masteryes make,
And wee will walke in the woods even;
Wee may chance meet with Robin Hoode
Att some unsett steven."
masteryes = feats of skill
unsett steven =
time not appointed
They cutt them downe the summer shroggs
Which grew both under a bryar,
And sett them three score rood in twinn,
To shoote the prickes full neare.
shroggs = bushes
60 rood = appx. 300 yards
the pricke = center of target
"Leade on good fellow," sayd Sir Guye,
"Lead on, I doe bidd thee:"
"Nay by my faith," quoth Robin Hood,
The leader thou shalt bee."
The first good shoot that Robin ledd
Did not shoote an inch the pricke froe;
Guy was an archer good enoughe,
But he cold neere shoote soe.
the pricke froe =
from center of target
The seconde shoote Sir Guy shott,
He shott within the garlande;
But Robin Hoode shott it better then hee,
For he clove the good pricke-wande.
garlande = ring on a stick
pricke-wande =
stick that holds the ring
"Gods blessing on thy heart!" sayes Guye,
"Goode fellow, thy shooting is goode;
For an thy hart be as good as thy hands,
Thou were better then Robin Hood.
"Tell me thy name, good fellow," quoth Guy,
Under the leaves of lyne:"
"Nay, by my faith," quoth good Robin,
"Till thou have told me thine."
"I dwell by dale and downe," quoth Guye,
"And I have done many a curst turne;
And he that calles me by my right name
Calles me Guye of good Gysborne."
"My dwelling is in the wood," sayes Robin;
"By thee I set right nought;
My name is Robin Hood of Barnesdale,
A fellow thou has long sought."
He that had neither beene a kithe nor kin
Might have seene a full fayre sight,
To see how together these yeomen went,
With blades both browne and bright.
To have seene how these yeomen together fought,
Two howers of a summers day;
Itt was neither Guy nor Robin Hood
That fettled them to flye away.
Robin was reacheles on a roote,
And stumbled at that tyde,
And Guy was quicke and nimble withall,
And hitt him o'er the left side.
reacheless = careless
"Ah, deere Lady!" sayd Robin Hoode,
"Thou art both mother and may!
I thinke it was never mans destinye
To dye before his day."
may = maiden
Robin thought on Our Lady deere,
And soone leapt up againe,
And thus he came with an awkwarde stroke;
Good Sir Guy hee has slayne.
He tooke Sir Guys head by the hayre,
And sticked itt on his bowes end:
"Thou hast beene traytor all thy liffe,
Which thing must have an ende."
Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe,
And nicked Sir Guy in the face,
That hee was never on a woman borne
Cold tell who Sir Guye was.

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what kind of contest do Robin and Guy have? who wins the contest?
  • at what point did Robin and Guy start to fight one another to the death?
  • how does Robin mutilate the corpse of Sir Guy?

Source: Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). Weblink. There are additional notes online by Stephen Knight and Thomas H. Ohlgren: weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM